What promised to be a star-driven Saturday afternoon at Consol Energy Center didn’t disappoint, as Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby combined for seven points to push the Pittsburgh Penguins past Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3 in overtime.
Malkin and Crosby assisted on James Neal‘s sudden-death goal 1:27 into the extra session, the Penguins’ third power-play tally of the game. Neal lashed a patented one-timer from the right circle high into the net to extend Pittsburgh’s unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1).
Malkin finished with four points, his second such effort of the season; his second goal of the game with 3:17 to go in the third period put the Penguins (46-19-5, 97 points) up 3-2. Jussi Jokinen picked off a Tyler Johnson breakout pass and fed Malkin in front for a backhand shot over Tampa Bay goalie Anders Lindback.
That stunning development set up overtime, which tilted in the Pens’ favor when the Lightning (39-24-8, 86 points) were tagged with a minor penalty for having too many men on the ice. It took the home team just 16 seconds to end the game, with Crosby and Malkin whipping the puck around the horn to Neal for his 23rd goal of the season.
Like many early-afternoon starts, the game began sluggishly, with no goals on 14 combined shots in the first. The contest got a shot of adrenaline 5:29 into the second when, during a Pens power play, Malkin lugged the puck 200-plus feet around several Tampa Bay defenders before centering for a wicked blast from Crosby.
The Penguins captain, whose three-point game raised his league-best scoring total to 94, registered his team-leading 34th goal.
Valtteri Filppula tied the game later in the frame when he scored from the right circle to cap an extended Lightning power play. Stamkos, in his eighth game since returning from a broken leg, earned the primary assist after faking one of his dangerous slappers.
Stamkos pushed the visitors ahead 2-1 eight minutes into the third when he poked home the rebound of Radko Gudas‘ drive from the point, but Malkin countered when he deposited his 22nd of the year three minutes later during another power play. Malkin, who had only one goal in 10 post-Olympic games prior to Thursday’s two-goal output at Detroit, scored from along the goal line after Lindback stopped Matt Niskanen‘s slap shot.
Malkin’s go-ahead tally further ignited the latest sellout Consol crowd, until the Lightning – trying to stay ahead of Montreal for second place in the Atlantic Division – earned a valuable standings point on Palat’s equalizer.
The Pens stay in Pittsburgh for the second half of their weekend back-to-back, hosting NHL-best St. Louis at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Blues dropped a 4-1 decision in Philadelphia on Saturday.